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Letters Feb. 4: Why rental housing costs keep rising; the view from the missing middle

Letter-writers share their opinions on why the costs of rental housing in Greater Victoria have risen so steeply. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Short-term rentals pushed prices higher

Victoria has been experiencing record homelessness and a rental crisis worse than ever before. We see and experience the ramifications daily, not to mention those who we know who have become directly affected. Our grandchildren, their friends, stories of friends of friends or in the way that we cannot find employees, let alone doctors who can afford to live here.

We are in a state of emergency.

How did we let things get this bad? I think it is time that we need to take drastic action to ensure a better quality of life for those around us.

Airbnb and other short-term rentals are negatively affecting the housing market for tenants. It is time that we work to ban and limit these organizations that have shifted the rental market.

It is more profitable to offer rental units to people visiting town, although it has come at the cost of the fabric of our communities.

The price of units have been able to rise significantly because the former short-term rental prices have become the standard pricing.

Long story short, if we would like to preserve our communities and the livelihood of our younger people, we need to ban Airbnb and other short-term rental options.

I sincerely hope that we are able to make things better.

Sarah Lane


Increases between tenants help landlords keep up

The rents of apartments rise sharply when they change hands, a fact that is termed “pretty shocking” by Doug King of the Together Against Poverty Society.

And now for the other side of the story.

Apartment rent increases are controlled by the province and currently are limited to a two per cent increase per suite per annum. This notwithstanding that property taxes, repairs and maintenance, caretaker, hydro, gas, water, sewer, insurance and a myriad of other expenses are increasing at a rate far in excess of the permitted rent increase.

This fact reduces the landlords’ ability to keep ahead of the depreciating functionality of a building as it ages.

In many cases tenants have occupied suites for years, and the rent they have paid has not kept pace with the rapidly increasing operating costs of the property.

When a long-term tenant moves out of a suite, the landlord in most cases has to do a complete makeover of the suite including painting, carpeting, cabinets, appliances, light fixtures etc.

This renovation can cost thousands of dollars. The landlord is then able to rent the unit at a market rent allowing the costs to be recovered and the building’s life extended to provide housing for the future.

Bev Highton

Oak Bay

The missing middle from a neighbour’s view

Re: “Victoria voters choose the missing middle,” letter, Feb. 2.

I know it is unhealthy to get in a pissing contest with “renting and working Victorians,” being a retired homeowner who lives in Saanich, but the letter-writer misses the scrumptious irony that they vent in letters to the Times Colonist.

If they think public hearings are the venue of homeowners and retirees (stereotyped as “rich geezers or geezerettes”) they should see the demographics of letter-writers and readers.

The frustration of the letter-writer is duly noted, but as someone who is getting a dose of the missing middle, a nineplex in my backyard, on a corner single-family lot, it becomes a matter of perspective.

Hail to the almighty missing middle for the downtrodden masses, but look up, way up to the new roofline and perspective shines brightly. As do the lights on the monstrosity. We shall see.

It all comes down to expression known to all the old geezers: “It depends on whose ox is being gored.”

Max Miller


Switzerland sets example in solar energy growth

Re: “Morgan’s columns should come with a health warning,” commentary, Jan. 29.

In Switzerland, photovoltaic energy represents about six per cent of electricity consumption. This is a rather mediocre figure by European standards.

The war in Ukraine has delivered an electric shock. Solar projects are springing up everywhere, including in the Alps. But the controversy is growing.

Total electricity consumption is currently 58 TWh, with 18 TWh coming from nuclear power and 10 TWh from hydroelectric dams in the Valais.

The determining factors in the expansion of solar power are the efficiency and the price of solar panels. Their price has fallen by more than 90 per cent in the past 12 years, and their energy yield has doubled in 30 years.

An EPFL study showed that simply making use of all south-facing roofs in the country could meet more than 40 per cent of Swiss electricity demand. The first step in extending solar power will be to set up large-scale solar power stations.

Beat Mertz


Remember that Russia invaded Ukraine

Re: “Tanks but no negotiation is bad news for Ukraine,” commentary, Feb. 1.

Evidently, William S. Geimer needs to be reminded that it was Russia that invaded Ukraine and that it is Russia that’s hell-bent on destroying Ukraine.

One would ask Geimer: If it was his country being invaded, which part of his country would he be willing to surrender, in the name of “negotiation,” to the Russian army of thugs committing systematic rape, torture and war crimes?

How many of his citizens would he be willing to abandon to occupation by a genocidal Russia? Ukraine’s allies, including Canada, deserve praise for assisting the Ukrainian people in defending themselves — and the Times Colonist should think more carefully about publishing victim-blaming claptrap like Geimer’s commentary.

Next time, the TC ought to leave the rationalizations of Russia’s war against Ukraine to RT.

Orest Zakydalsky, senior policy adviser

Ukrainian Canadian Congress

With those curves, no chance of rail transit

Re: “Rail would help relieve housing woes,” letter, Feb. 2.

In the absence of comments from an engineer, let me apply a bit of general knowledge. Fast rail requires track that is straight and flat. The existing track has more curves than Marilyn Monroe, so we would require a new track straight through the existing suburbs.

So, as a starter, we need the agreement and co-operation of several independent municipalities, the extensive demolition of existing houses, much earth and rock moving and a new tunnel bored through Malahat Mountain.

Good luck with those!

“No, no,” you say, “you misunderstand, use the original track.” This would require swing carriages. Sure, these exist on roller coasters, but are not used on any high-speed public transit so far as I know.

While we urgently need to reduce gasoline and diesel use, in this particular case rail would just not work.

Joe Harvey


Hinshaw’s best bonus: She’s no longer in Alberta

Glad to have Dr. Deena Hinshaw as deputy health officer. B.C. can always use another doctor.

The article forgot to mention her signing bonus: It’s called “getting out of Alberta.”

Something a lot of us have taken advantage of, this writer included.

Sandy Szabo

North Saanich

A trip to the library ends with disappointment

We are regular users of the Oak Bay library branch, but as it is closed for 10 days for remedial construction work we decided to pay the downtown Victoria library a visit.

We very seldom venture downtown any more, and this visit reinforced this decision. Foot traffic was light, most coffee shops were almost empty, several empty storefronts even in Bay Centre, numerous people sleeping on sidewalks.

We arrived at the library at 10 a.m., but were stopped by a security guard. The library was closed, because some thug had thrown a large rock through a floor-to-ceiling window at the entrance to library.

Oh well, the Oak Bay library reopens in a few days.

Taxpayers, please view the video online called Seattle is Dying. About one hour long, but worth watching. It is a foreshadow of what Victoria is becoming.

Paul Baldwin


We can all enjoy our parks

Re: “Dogs make families feel unsafe in nature,” letter, Feb. 1.

I was saddened to read about the family feeling threatened by dogs in parks for two reasons.

One, all dog owners and walkers are tarred with the same brush. When unleashed, my canine companion is within my sight and trained to come within three calls; the latter maybe based on his love of treats.

In three years, we’ve not encountered even a slightly aggressive dog in parks throughout the region. The only problem was when an owner couldn’t control the retractable leash on their dog, and it wrapped around me.

Two, children are being taught to fear beings that can be wonderful companions. When we’re near children, I keep a closer eye on the dog and at times leash him.

If asked, I’ll introduce him and allow them to pet the dog, and we get to see smiles on young faces. That said, I hope to never encounter this family when they are wielding their “large sticks … and bracing for impact.”

There are owners who do not follow the rules, but they are the minority. We all need to be involved.

I’ve picked up a few dog bags left behind. I’ll ask if we can say hello if another dog is leashed. And if anyone witnesses bad behaviour by a dog and/or owner, they should report it, even if just a brief description.

We can all enjoy our parks, including those of us who exercise alongside our unleashed and under-control dogs.

G.G. Vandenbrink


Three more years of the status quo

The Royal B.C. Museum has announced a three-year consultation process that should decide the museum’s future based on a “revised, public-informed concept of a modern museum.” Alicia Dubois, the museum’s CEO, will lead this public consultation process.

The museum’s problems started the day Prince Philip gave royal status to what used to be the B.C. Provincial Museum. The so-called revitalization started a slow decline of this institution.

RBCM became a tourist attraction rather than a scholarly institution.

Until the revitalization, the museum had a linguistic department, the scientific journal Syesis, and a sound publication activity. The old Newcombe Auditorium held regular public lectures besides being a meeting place for several local organizations, such as the Victoria Natural History Society.

The consultation process to plot the RBCM future will mean nothing but three more years of the status quo. RBCM should be an educational institution, not just a tourist attraction.

Adolf Ceska

(on the museum’s botany division curatorial staff from 1981 until 1995)


We can save money, and save lives as well

My mantra these days is “safe supply.”

With people dying from tainted, fentanyl-laced drugs, I often wonder how we could supply addicted people with safe, pharmaceutical drugs.

As a society, it would be cheaper for us than the ambulance/hospital/police/jail system we are currently using. It’s expensive and does not seem to be working.

After decades of vilifying drugs and drug users, handing out free drugs might be hard for some to swallow. But it would be cheaper and probably safer than what we’re doing.

David Riehm


Drug rehabilitation an important first step

Housing all the drug addicts into a highrise, such as 844 Johnson St., and supplying pipes for their addiction is not a sensible or effective solution to the drug problem in our society.

It merely creates and supports a drug culture, which ultimately will be at odds with our Canadian society and its values.

The government needs to build drug rehabilitation facilities which can house all addicts looking for treatment, and legalize all drugs, so dangerous street drugs which contain unknown substances that can cause death are eliminated.

Legality also eliminates drug cartels, drug pushers, and that whole underworld of crime. (No, I do not believe that once drugs are legalized that people will rush out to become heroin addicts.)

Also, if drug users break the law, they should be punished like any other criminal. This vision asserts that our society, while respecting and honouring individual freedom, has standards of conduct that must be met so that we can all live together.

Unfortunately, it appears that those charged with looking after the welfare of our citizens, the politicians and drug administrators, do not have the vision, the skills, nor the courage to meet and solve these drug and other problems in our society.

William Tate


Dallas Road waterfront has been destroyed

Re: “Picnic tables? What about all those dogs?” letter, Jan. 20.

This writer hit the nail on the head.

What used to be a lovely natural area along Dallas Road would now resemble, if stretched into a straight line, nothing less ugly than a race track.

The final nail in the coffin was the city spreading wood chips all over it. Even if the whole project were scrapped, it would have to be restored laboriously section by section if there were any hope for the grass to come back.

What a capacity for destruction we humans have. And there are still many unleashed dogs on the path, both coming through the fence and brought blatantly by their owners.

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” (Just change the words.)

Andrea Ashton



• Email letters to:

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.

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